3 reasons to take a vacation, from a psychiatrist

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Published on June 29, 2022

3 reasons to take your vacation days – right now

Author: F. Carl Mueller, MD, MPH, MS, FAPA

As we adjust to learning to live with COVID-19, people are returning to travel again – and that’s a good thing. For our mental health, it’s hugely beneficial to get some physical distance from work to cleanse the mind. Unfortunately, a staycation doesn’t provide the same benefit.

Summer is a critical time to get outside and take advantage of your vacation time! Here are a few reasons to schedule a getaway in the next few months.

1. Vacations evoke your senses.

Vacations evoke a sense of smell – the smell of salt in the air, a forest, or certain foods. That smell helps you to connect with the emotional experience of a vacation and it helps the memories stay with you once the vacation has ended.

2. A vacation offers a time for families to reconnect.

We all work so much. When you’re on vacation, you’re with your family 24 hours a day and that’s an important thing. It’s really good to spend this quality time together when you can – it has a beneficial impact on your relationships and your mental health as well.

3. The older you are, the more time you need away.

When I was younger, it would only take me a day or even a few hours to feel like I was in “vacation mode.” Now, it takes me at least two to three days to unwind and feel like I’m truly on vacation. Data supports this idea: It’s harder to disconnect as you grow older and have more obligations. So, the older you are, the longer your vacation should be. A weekend getaway that might do the trick for a 25-year-old doesn’t have the same effect on a 50-year-old.

The beauty of vacations is that they open your field of vision and allow you to return and see things in a new light. Be mindful when you’re away and wherever you are – be there. Disconnect your phone, eat the local foods, put your feet in the sand – experience that place wholly. When we’re at work, we tend to deprive ourselves and do things like skip lunch. On vacation, live in the moment.

When you return home from time away, don’t hesitate to look at old photos or share your vacation photos with friends and family. Better yet, take something back from vacation into your regular lives. If you were walking a lot, try to incorporate that into your day-to-day life. Remember work is good, but it’s only part of your life – there is so much more to experience.


About the Author

F. Carl Mueller, MD, MPH, MS, FAPA, is a board-certified psychiatrist at Stamford Health who has been in practice for more than 33 years.


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